The Cult of Cait, Vol. 7: Transgender leader calls I Am Cait a ‘misuse of power’ and ‘missed opportunity’

Okay, my turn to kneel in the confessional: Forgive me, Father, for I am relieved that Caitlyn Jenner is going away.

patti dawn swansson
patti dawn swansson

At least I believe the transgender diva is about to vamoose. I mean, her eight-part E! channel genuflection to her authentic self, I Am Cait, has run its course. She’s done Ellen. She’s done the Today Show. And she’s done a fair bit of damage. So, time to push on, girl.

Now, let’s be clear on something before proceeding: I fully support Jenner’s transition from the cover of a Wheaties cereal box as Olympic decathlon champion Bruce to the cover of Vanity Fair as prissy miss Caity. And I was curious and eager to see what Kitty Cait would bring to the discussion via I Am Cait, which, we were led to believe, was to be an eye-opening docu-series focusing on the plight of transgender people to “reshape the landscape” and “change the world.” As a transgender woman, I felt duty-bound to watch. Today, I feel duped.

I reflect on the initial airing of her self-opus, which began with our great transgender crusader bleary-eyed and awake at 4:32 in the a.m. Sans makeup, she stared at her bedside camera and advised us that sleep wasn’t coming easily due to the considerable heft from the mantle of leadership that she had placed upon her still-broad shoulders.

“We don’t want people dying over this,” she said with theatrical emphasis. “We don’t want people murdered over this stuff. What a responsibility I have towards this community. Am I going to do everything right? Am I going to say the right things? Do I project the right image? My mind is just spinning with thoughts. I just hope I get it right…I hope I get it right…ya.”

Unfortunately, she didn’t. Not because she was without honest design, but, rather, because she is a miscast, unqualified spokesperson for the transgender community.

Jenner, to be sure, could likely train someone to become an Olympic athlete. Maybe even an Olympic champion. But she cannot school anyone on the transgender life because she’s never been in the transgender trenches. She is Bubble Girl. Her show confirmed that. Often.

As I scribbled on Aug. 10, hers was the perfect vehicle to deliver the good word about the transgender community. To alter public perception. Instead, it became a “wasted opportunity.”

cult of caitJenner’s so-called reality series wasn’t about educating mainstream society re trans issues. It dealt with trans issues like a kid skipping stones on a lake—plink, plink, plink, plunk. No, this was all about Caitlyn Jenner. Nothing more, nothing less. It was about her considerable insecurities, her naivete, her neuroticisms and, perhaps most of all, her absolute and insatiable obsession with fashion, makeup and all things girly. Her only verbal contribution to reshaping the transgender landscape was to repeatedly remind us that “people are dying over this stuff,” with heavy, heavy italicized and bold-faced emphasis on the word “dying” for dramatic effect.

She cobbled together a cult-like following of trans gal pals who, while at times taking Kitty Cait to task for her many ill-conceived utterances, mainly fawned over her. In Sunday’s final episode, she referred to her Trans Troop as “my little tribe” and the likeable fawning flock of Caitlettes, which includes exactly zero trans men, gushed glowingly. The High Priestess in the Cult of Cait, indeed.

Seemingly forgotten from earlier episodes was the scorn she had heaped on the many disadvantaged transgender individuals who rely on social programs to survive. Basically, she branded them as layabouts. Scant seconds later, she was flaunting and bragging about her pricey trophy tits. She also resurrected her former self, insisting that she use her “dead” name Bruce in applying for a golf membership. Oh, yes, she places a higher value on a silly golf membership than in going all-in as a transgender woman. This, to my line of thinking, was the most egregious of her many gaffes and surely sounded the bell of confusion for trans youth. Cait one day, Bruce the next. Explain please.

We have also discovered, through her visits to Ellen and the Today Show, that her lips are loose cannons away from the set of I Am Cait, as well. She delivered a weak-kneed endorsement of same-sex marriage to Ellen DeGeneres, and she told Matt Lauer that GLAAD and “all the people in the (LGBT) community” are a collection of nit-picking ninnies for their insistence that proper pronouns be used when addressing transgender individuals.

Doesn’t matter. These trips of the tongue notwithstanding, the T-Troop continues to chug-a-lug the Cait Kool-Aid.

There is, mind you, one insider who has refused to swallow what the High Priestess has been serving. That would be Angelica Ross, founding CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises and a guest on the Road Trip episodes of the Jenner opus. She offered this insider’s look at I Am Cait:

“I want to take this opportunity to hold Caitlyn Jenner responsible as an Executive Producer for the editing and misuse of her new found power,” she wrote in the Huffington Post. “I believe a combination of Caitlyn being soaking wet behind the ears in lived trans experience, as well as the sense of separateness she displays between her and the rest of the community led to such a gross misuse of power and privilege as an Executive Producer of her own show. Overall, I would characterize I Am Cait as a ‘missed opportunity.’”

Little wonder Miss Ross failed to make the cut as a permanent member of the Trans Posse.


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